Captivated by Indonesia - United Hub
Employee Travel Blog

Captivated by Indonesia

By The Hub team, March 29, 2017

Each week we will profile one of our employee's adventures across the globe, featuring a new location for every employee's story. Follow along every week to learn more about their travel experiences.

By SFO Base Technician James Hoang

For most of us, there are always wonderful reasons to go on an adventure. For me, it's appreciating the ancient temples, hiking the vast trails in a lush green forest, experiencing the sight of the unpredictable volcanoes, walking along the beautiful sandy beaches and gazing at the crystal clear-blue ocean. But most of all, my greatest adventure was spending time with my good friend Rista, who is a native of Jakarta, Indonesia.

My Indonesia journey began in mid-February of this year. Traveling to Jakarta took me almost 20 hours of flight time. I flew from San Francisco International Airport to Singapore International Airport. The first city I visited was Yogyakarta. Even though I was exhausted from traveling, I was too overjoyed upon arriving in this amazing place to sleep. Yogyakarta is an extremely peaceful and serene town, far from the hustle and bustle of city life that Jakarta possesses, and it is not as crowded and as touristy as the world-famous Bali, either.

Yogyakarta, or Jogya for short, is one of the oldest cities in Indonesia with many historical buildings and monuments. There are two very famous and must-see ancient temples, Borobudur and Prambanan, which have made the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. I was excited to visit the Prambanan Temple, especially with the help of my friend/tour guide Daniel, who showed me around. The Prambanan temple is as magnificent as I could have ever imagined. I was captivated by its beauty. It is the largest Hindu temple site in Indonesia and one of the biggest in Southeast Asia. It is best described by its tall and pointed typical Hindu architecture, standing at 47 meters high (154 feet). Prambanan attracts many visitors from around the world. Exploring the temple left me in complete awe and wanting to see more. I had forgotten all about the heat of the sun because Prambanan had taken my breath away.

United employee, James Hoang, hiking in Indonesia

My first dinner was at a local Indonesian restaurant. I enjoyed sitting at the Indonesian-inspired table— short-legged table and comfortable cushioned seats where I had wonderful conversations with my friends throughout our meal. I had so much fun and experienced mouth-watering dishes I'd never tasted. The desserts and durians were heavenly.

My next destination was Borobodur, where I stayed at a cozy hotel. The Borobudur Temple is known for its magical sunrise. One should make sure to witness its beauty. For the next couple of days, I had the great privilege of exploring an old, sleepy village nearby and experiencing their way of life. The village has been around for hundreds of years and, to this day, the people of that small village still maintain their traditions. For example, the town is known for making batik, an Indonesian fabric with unique designs that are drawn by hand. It takes several weeks to create intricate designs, which are then dipped into colorful dyes made from leaves, roots, tree barks or seeds from various local trees. I have so much respect and admiration for these artists, who have preserved their ancient art traditions. I also had a chance to visit the rice paddies. I was able to learn how rice was harvested in the old-fashioned way, as well as how the rice was cleaned and processed by the hands of the hardworking, yet so cheerful, women.

After a long goodbye to the new friends I made, it was off to Lombok, an old fishing town. It has beautiful beaches where you can walk all day long or sit and admire the sunset. Colorful painted fishing boats surround the area. You can take these boats to the Gili Islands, an archipelago of three small islands. There are also other ways to go sightseeing around town -- you can ride on a horse-drawn wagon, ride a bicycle or get around by foot.

Monkey perched on a tree in Indonesia

Hiking in the lush, green jungle was one of the best experiences. I was amused by the monkeys that accompanied me along the trails and, at the same time, waited for treats. I was able to go behind the powerful waterfalls, which is one experience most of us don't get the chance to do.

Indonesia was such a great travel experience for me and I will carry the memories with me forever. I have made great friends with the native Muslims there, who are lovely and kind-hearted people, making Indonesia a country worth visiting again and again. I also want to thank my friend Rista, who showed me around the country and gave me the opportunity to experience the peaceful and loving Indonesians.

Adventures are the best way to learn. They leave you speechless, and then turn you into a storyteller. I encourage my fellow travelers to explore this place whenever they get the chance.

"Travel changes you. As you move through this life…you leave marks behind, however small and in return, life and travel leaves marks on you." -- (Anthony Bourdain).

And as Mark Twain would put it: Explore. Dream. Discover.

Adjusting to Customer Demand, United Adds New Nonstop Service to Florida

By United Newsroom, August 12, 2020

CHICAGO, Aug. 12, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- United Airlines today announced plans to add up to 28 daily nonstop flights this winter connecting customers in Boston, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, New York/LaGuardia, Pittsburgh and Columbus, Ohio to four popular Florida destinations. The new, nonstop flights reflect United's continuing strategy to aggressively, and opportunistically manage the impact of COVID-19 by increasing service to destinations where customers most want to fly.

Entertainment for all

By The Hub team, August 04, 2020

Our Marketing Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity team and Bridge, our Business Resource Group (BRG) for people with all abilities, partnered together to test and provide feedback on our award-winning seatback inflight entertainment (IFE) system.

Aptly named "Entertainment for all," our new seatback IFE system offers the an extensive suite of accessibility features, allowing for unassisted use by people of all visual, hearing, mobility and language abilities.

"It's nice to know that I can get on a plane and pick my favorite entertainment to enjoy, just like every customer," said Accessibility Senior Analyst and Developer and Bridge Chief of Staff Ray C., who is blind.

"As a deaf employee, the closed captioning availability on board our aircraft is something I value greatly," added Information Technology Analyst Greg O. "The new IFE further cements United's visibility within the deaf community and elsewhere. It makes me proud to be an employee."

Accessibility features of the new IFE include a text-to-speech option, explore by touch, customizable text size, screen magnification, color correction and inversion modes, and alternative navigation options for those unable to swipe or use a handset. For hearing-impaired and non-English-speaking passengers, customization options provide the ability for customers to be served content and receive inflight notifications based on their preferences and settings —with closed captions, with subtitles or in the language of their choice from the 15 languages supported. Our "Entertainment for all" system won the Crystal Cabin Award in 2019, and recently, the Dr. Margaret Pfanstiehl Research and Development Award for Audio Description by the American Council of the Blind.

"This really showed the benefits of partnering with BRGs in helping us improve products and services for our customers and employees," said Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity Senior Manager Corinne S. "Even though we have been recognized with awards for our IFE accessibility features, we are not resting on our laurels but continuing to work towards improving the inflight entertainment experience for all of our customers to ensure entertainment is available for all."

Shaping an inclusive future with Special Olympics

By The Hub team, July 24, 2020

If your travels have taken you through Chicago O'Hare International Airport anytime since October 2019, you may have had a friendly, caring and jovial exchange with Daniel Smrokowski. Daniel is one of four Service Ambassadors thanks to our ongoing partnership with Special Olympics. This inaugural ambassador program aims to provide Special Olympic athletes employment opportunities within our operation, affording them a unique and meaningful career.

Since 2018, our partnership with Special Olympics has become one of United's most cherished relationships, going beyond the events we take part in and volunteer with. While the plane pull competitions, polar plunges, duck derbies and Special Olympics World Games and other events around the world are a big part of our involvement, the heart of this partnership lies with the athletes and individuals supported by Special Olympics. To advocate for their inclusion in every setting is one of our biggest honors, and we take great pride in the role we play in the organization's inclusion revolution.

Aiding in the success of Special Olympics' mission to create continuing opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities, throughout the two-year partnership, United has volunteered over 10,500 hours and donated over $1.2 million in travel to the organization. The impact of this partnership is felt at every level, both at Special Olympics and within our own ranks.

"The Inclusion Revolution campaign, led by our athletes, aims to end discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities. United Airlines has joined in our fight for inclusion, empowering our athletes with the skills needed to succeed and opportunities to contribute their abilities as leaders," said Special Olympics International Chairman Tim Shriver. "United Airlines believes that people with intellectual disabilities should be perceived as they really are: independent, world-class athletes, students, employees, neighbors, travelers, and leaders who contribute to make this world a better place."

Our Service Ambassador program is just one of the many ways Special Olympics has impacted not only our employees, but also our customers. "I see every day how our Service Ambassadors connect with our customers the moment they walk into the airport lobby," said Senior Customer Service Supervisor Steve Suchorabski. "They provide a warm, welcoming smile ad assist in any way they can. To see these young adults hold positions that a society once told them they couldn't is truly the most heartwarming part of my job," Steve continued.

"The opportunity to be a part of the United family means everything to me," Daniel said. "I feel so much pride showing up to work in a Special Olympics/United co-branded uniform, working among such a loving and supportive community. The relationship between these two organizations is truly helping to shape my future while letting me use my gifts of communicating and helping others. Hopefully, I can spend my entire career at United," Daniel added.

In honor of Special Olympics' Global Week of Inclusion in July, we're asking our employees, customers and partners to sign a pledge to #ChooseToInclude at jointherevolution.org/pledge.

And be sure to check out Daniel's podcast The Special Chronicles.

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